Monday, February 19, 2018

CATS ARE PURRFECT FOR EMOTIONAL SUPPORT, PART 2

by Mary Kennedy                                         

Last week, I wrote I devoted my blog to "cats for emotional support to nursing home residents" and detailed a few of my experiences. If you missed it, you can read it right here. I talked about Lucky (pictured above) and what a wonderful "therapy pet" she was, always calm, quiet and appreciative of any and all attention. And who could resist that cute little face with such an intelligent expression! She was a rock star when I tied a little blue scarf around her neck and took her for visits.

Here is Shadow, another calm cat. I could pick him up and he would immediately snuggle next to me, purring happily.
                                                                         
                       

I hope some of you have been inspired to visit nursing homes and assisted living facilities with your cat (or dog) and here are a few tips I've picked up along the way.

 I learned a few things along the way that I’d like to share with you.
  • Cats can be wonderful therapy animals because they provide a sense of peace and contentment. Lucky knew how to live “in the moment,” and seemed to enjoy every situation she was in. The residents were happy to see her, no matter what she was doing, even if she was just sitting on a windowsill, bird-watching or taking a quick cat nap.
  • Residents love spending time with cats because it gives them a sense of companionship they once had and brings back happy memories.
  • Be mindful that some residents might be allergic to cats and be sure to check with the social worker, activity director or nursing supervisor before bringing a cat onto the unit.
  • Be sure to ask a resident if you may bring your visiting cat into their room. The resident might be in pain, tired, or just having a bad day. Always be respectful of their privacy.
  • Don’t allow the residents to give treats to your cat, unless you have already modified your cat’s diet to allow treats. Weight gain in cats is a serious issue.
  • Don’t overstay your welcome. About fifteen minutes is enough time for a cat to visit in a resident’s room. I always would visit the “activity room” at the end of the morning, so everyone would have a chance to enjoy Lucky.
You’ll be surprised how much you’ll look forward to visiting with your therapy cats. It’s a two-way street and you’ll enjoy it as much as the residents. See you next week!!

Mary Kennedy

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